Monday, December 19, 2016

To the Burned Out Leader

Oh, sister... or brother... my fellow volunteer for any organization where you are in any type of leadership role... I'm going to be honest here and tell you that I'm not sure where this post is going. I'll just say I have been struggling. Struggling to stay positive. Struggling to stay afloat. Struggling to wrap my head around where my head has been. Struggling with decisions that I have struggled with for over a year. I'm SOOOO there.

To my fellow burned out leaders... you are not alone. I guess that's the message. You aren't alone. You aren't the only one that feels like you can't answer one.more.question. about any topic that you have answered 30 million times. You aren't the only one that wants to scream "Use Google! I mean, really, how do you think I found it? I'm not a walking encyclopedia. I'm not a plethora of information... that's Google's job. I did it... so can you!" Okay... that IS a little snarky and mean, right? But, you know what I mean. You've been there. If you haven't, you're a saint and I am humbled in your presence. 

This was pertaining to an embarrassing moment, but I can apply it to the way I feel today.  "Well, if it's not bad enough you need to go cry in a cave, what are you worried about?" 

Instead of making a resolution this past year, I made a phrase my motto. I decided if it wasn't so important that I would stake claim and die on the metaphorical hill, then I'd let it go. For the most part, I feel I have kept that in focus.  "Is this the hill I want to die on?" There are very few things that are worth dying for.

For 2017.. I want to add one more life phrase "Is it bad enough to crawl into a cave and cry?" Don't think I'm going off the deep end... I'm trying to shock myself to keep perspective. However, as a very wise 8 year old told me "Sometimes you just need 30 seconds to whine and get it all out." There are solutions for most problems we face. Even if they are tough decisions.

I can think of a few things that are that bad, but most things aren't.

Where do we go from here? What works for me, may or may not work for you... These are the steps I plan to go through... think about it... what will get you back to the land of the living... YOU are important enough to make yourself the priority. Even if it means everything doesn't get done.
  • Allow yourself 30 seconds to whine. (or 20 minutes sitting in your co-leaders car ranting and griping and whining and sighing)
  • Allow yourself to sit in the cave and cry it out... but make sure it's cave crying worthy. 
  • List your blessings without thinking. What are your top 3 blessings. Is this where you are spending your time? 
  • Learn to say "no" and learn to let go. 
  • It's okay to take time for yourself. Do it. 
  • It's okay to tell people you aren't available 24/7. Do that!
  • Re-evaluate the roles you currently have. What can you stop doing? What can you ask for help with? What are you doing just to do it and it really doesn't need to be done? 
  • Don't take on any new projects, until you regain your strength... and then evaluate it to see if it's something you REALLY want to do...otherwise...don't!
  • Schedule some time to catch up with a friend or have time to just laugh. Continue to make this a priority. 
I'm not going to tell you not to quit doing something you are struggling to enjoy. Life is too short for that. But, take a moment. Sleep on it. Think about it. Are you really willing to give up the good parts along with the bad parts?

Bring on 2017... I'm ready... fresh year... additional life phrase... clear perspective on priorities. Let's hope I can keep them. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Junior: Simple Meals badge

This is a blast from the past... Troop 70258 completed this badge with a journey sleepover and fieldtrip WAY back in 2013.

I worked with the nutritionist at our local HyVee grocery store to plan a tour and cooking class for the girls. It was really very cool.

Here is how we got it done:

1. Step up your skills with a pro 

HyVee covered this for us. We had a tour of the HyVee kitchens and spoke with a couple of the chefs about their daily routine and how they got into being a chef.

2. Breakfast – boil in the bag omelets

We did this for breakfast at the sleepover. If you haven't ever made boil in the bag omelets, they are so easy and so good and the girls get to customize their breakfast... great for picky eaters. We had eggs, ham, bacon bit, green onion, tomatoes, and two types of cheese. They broke their eggs into the ziploc baggies and then put in their ingredients and smushed it around until combined. I had the girls write their initials on the bags with sharpies and it did hold up through the boiling process.

My co-leader and I did the boiling in the hot pot of water part, because I was concerned about burns and... well... don't use a stainless steel pan. The bags will melt on the side. Aluminum pot would be the way to go... 

Here's a more detailed explanation:

3. Healthy lunch or dinner – HyVee to the rescue

The nutritionist at HyVee came up with a great menu for a healthy lunch for the girls. We made zuchinni fries, parmesan crusted chicken fingers, side salads, and a sherbert smoothie. This was really fun and the girls loved cooking in the HyVee kitchen.

4. Delicious Dessert – banana boats Friday night

A campfire treat! Definitely not the healthiest, but very fun. 

Slice a banana in the peel down the middle. 
Load up with mini chocolate chips, mini marshmallows
Wrap in foil to resemble a boat
Cook over the campfire for 3-5 minutes. The longer, the meltier. Yummm... 

We ate those with a spon right out of the foil and peel.

5. Make you own meal – campfire Friday night

The girls were super excited to cook their own meal over the campfire. 

Corn on the cob
Soak your corn in the husk in water for an hour or so. Then, you can lay the corn in the husk right on your coals. Don't put them in the flames... around the edges works best. Turn every 5 minutes of so. When the husks begin to burn off, remove the corn. The cool part is, the silks will be gone. Butter them up and enjoy. 

Onion bombs (meatballs)
This is one of those foods that you really don't believe it until you see it... these are all over the place now on the internet with variations and bacon... We didn't use bacon. We wrapped in foil. The girls loved mixing the meat ball mixture and packing the onion. They could do most of this all on their own. I did help cut the large onions, because little girls and sharp knives scare me at times. 

Potato packets
The last food we had was a foil packet of potatoes. We chunked the potatos, added onion from the middle of the onions from the bombs, and salt/pepper, cheese, and bacon bits. Wrap up in your packet, tenting a little for steam, sharpie with initials, and toss on the coals. These took about 15-20 minutes. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Cadette: Book Artist

This was a girl-led badge. One of the girls gave us a supplies list and she led the badge.

This is how we earned the Book Artist badge.

1. Explore the art of bookbinding. 
She brought in 5 different books to look through and evaluate. She had a board book, paperback, hardback, Bible, and she brought in her Kindle for an electronic book. The girls talked about the similarities, differences, and which they liked the most, as well as the difficulties faced with a few formats (if you forget to charge the Kindle and you are right at the good part, you'll have to find a charger and/or wait.)

2. Get familiar with the insides of a book
She asked me to bring in a book they could take apart. I just happened to have an old textbook that I didn't care about. Taking apart this book was a little more difficult than we thought. We found the cover was glued with a glue that would have held an elephant in place. It took 2 of us to finally get the book to come apart. It was glued, stapled, and bound with string. The process gave us the ability to discuss the various techniques and why they were used (textbooks are used many years, passed around, not always the best care). We also found that each chapter was a book fold section and on the fold was printed the textbook name, chapter, and numerical order.

My only piece of advice when working with old books... well, maybe a few pieces... make sure it's something that you don't want, of little value, and be careful... rusty staples will send you to the ER for a tetanus shot! We were careful and no one was harmed.

3. Try out book artist techniques
We chose to do a sewn book. We looked up tutorials and made little journals using the Japanese book binding technique. It was pretty cool and didn't' take much time. Now, I was nice to the girls and have pre-punched their holes. So, there's that little secret for you. I have a Crop-A-Dile, so I cut the pieces of paper and a cardstock cover, used a binder clip to hold it together and punched them all together.

4. Focus on function
Next up, another book to make. I had leftover chipboard and library rings. So, I brought in scrapbook paper (as requested), cardstock, and chipboard covers. The girls put everything together, decorated their pages and covers, and used library rings to hold it all together. They were cute. This project did take a little time, but our meetings are almost 3 hours so it was fine.

5. Focus on style
This was a tweak and loose interpretation of this step... we made ornaments. Pretty simple.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Penguin Party Patch Program

Wow... that title is full of "P's", huh? It could almost my a tongue twister (as I try it out quietly while no one is around to make fun of me...).

The November 2016 BCG Patch brings us Penguin Party.

If you need an idea for a super cool winter party for your group, this is it. They will unscramble REAL penguin names, learn a little about penguins without realizing (more if you are super sneaky like that), and have a lot of fun. There are Penguin Poop cleanup races (who doesn't want to race with penguin poo??), nest building, fish stacking, and of course... snacks!

All the activity sheets you need are found in the FREE Program Guide. I've even included board titles for your game day, so you can build something similar to the Reindeer Games of 2015.

The patch is super cute, too. Three little penguins who look all innocent and sweet, but the stack of snowballs may give their mischief away.

Please come along and host a Penguin Party this season. Patches are guaranteed through  March 15, 2017. Currently, they are "on the shelf" and ready to be shipped to you within 48 hours, Mon-Fri.

Monday, November 7, 2016

The 2016 Cookie List - not really Girl Scout related...

Each year I make a TON of cookies and treats... now when I tell people I make a ton of cookies they think I'm exaggerating or they jokingly say "Right... like a 1000?". I laugh right back and say "typically end up with over 100 dozen of cookies, treats, etc." At that point, their mouth drops open.

Treats are packaged up in tins and sent to homes far and wide. If you make the "cut" for the tin list, you can be sure you are very special to our family. If you don't make the "cut", it's probably because I had my annual cookie overload meltdown and I drew the line on the number of tins I was going to try to fill. I'm sure I threw in a comment about not having any left for my ornament cookie jar and how that was NOT going to happen!

The first step in the Christmas Cookie Craze is to make a list of which cookies are going to be made. That is today's post.

Most of these recipes can be found in the FREE Share the Season patch Program Guide

1. Sugar Cookies (tried and true and never going to be taken off the list! My Grandma's recipe with my own tweaks)
2. Russian Tea Cakes (Yes... rolled in powdered sugar even though that is a complete mess and I hate a mess)
3. Buckeyes
4. Cake balls (Yes... even though I really hate the many many many steps it takes to make these blasted little balls)
5. Peanut Blossoms (because I love my husband and father-in-law)
6. White Chocolate Dipped Pretzels (love my husband...)
7. Italian Butter Cookies (again... love my husband)
8. Thumbprints (love love love the girl!)
9. Checkerboard Cookies (this is the one cookie I make for ME! LOVE this cookie)
10. Cashew Brittle
11. something new... potentially the chocolate sugar cookies with melted white chocolate and sprinkles... it's an idea I have brewing.

You will notice there is not ONE dropped cookie in the lot. There are several that have to be rolled, shaped, dipped, molded, etc. This is why I take off work for 2 days prior to a weekend. It's also why my husband understands that during Cookie Baking Days I do not cook dinner. I may make soup or a crockpot meal, but I don't stand at the stove. He isn't allowed to cook and be in my way, either. My girl says I tend to get a little "focused", which is code for slightly mean.

The oven fires up by 7am and will go until 5 or 6pm, depending on the day. I take the list and break it down on when each is done (I'll do a post later on about that), complete with when dough is made and chilled, baking temps and times, etc. It's a big deal. My organizational skills are put to the test.

It may sound like a ton of work (it is) and not much fun (but, it is), but here's the secret... I absolutely LOVE those days. Baking and nothing else. Plus, the house smells divine during and after. There is not a candle in the world that can match the smell of fresh baked cookies.

So... there's the scoop... Share the Season is all about this tradition in my family. One I really hope you will start with your group or family. Have fun. Make a mess. Crank up the music. Turn on the sappy movies. Dance in your fuzzy socks. Make some memories!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Anniversaries, Reflection, and Talent

This is the 200th post to the GirlScoutLeader101 blog.

Seven years ago I decided that maybe... just maybe... I should consider becoming a Troop Leader for my step-daughter's troop. It seems like it was just yesterday, yet a million years ago. She was so excited and I still hear that squeal on the phone when I asked her what she would think.

Seven years has brought a lot of ups and downs for my family, my job, and my personal self. It's been a time of great joy and great loss.

I never thought seven years ago I would have become the person I am now. I recently read a book by Brene Brown (The Art of Imperfection), which discussed many great topics, but the one I'll refer to here is the slash career. I hold various hats in my life. I'm not just a wife, stepmom, daughter, friend, computer programmer, or Girl Scout. I'm also the Volunteer Service Coordinator for the largest Service Unit in our Council. A database administrator at times. Network support and admin at time. Systems Analyst too often. Small business owner. Crafter of all things lovely. Indoors lover. Crazy cat lady (I only have 1 right now...). Healthy Eating failure most days. So, when I introduce myself and only give you the piece that I think you expect, I'm really short changing myself.

What does that have to do with the blog or Girl Scouts? So much... and maybe nothing at all.

As women, we often downplay our talents. We are our own worst critics. It's really hard to accept that compliment with grace and not feel as though you are bragging. If you've mastered that art, I give you great kudos. It's a struggle for me. I do receive several emails each week and comments on various online outlets stating how much I've helped and even at times "saved" new and experienced leaders. I'm truly humbled each time and it never ceases to amaze me that this little ol' blog reaches out to so many people. That doesn't even account for all the Pinterest followers and store customers that I've come in contact with over the past years. It's crazy to stop and think how many lives I touch and many without even knowing it.

So, today, I challenge you to look in the mirror and confidently say "I am enough. I'm doing the best I can. I don't need to compare myself to others. I only need to answer to myself and I know my heart is true."

Next, sit and write a list of all the talents you possess and what you offer the world on a daily basis. There is no talent too small. Read them and keep them close to your heart. I probably don't know you, but I'm confident you are amazing!

We must change our mindset in order to spark the flame for the next generation. Lead with passion. Lead with your heart. Lead by example. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Service Project Meeting

I've sort of mentioned this a couple times, but I thought I'd put together a post to focus on the topic. 

The Cadette troop that I help lead decided last year they wanted to do one "badge meeting" and one "service meeting" each month. The girls really want to earn those President Volunteer Service Hours and they want to earn hours for Hearts of Service, which a program our Service Unit provides. They have hearts of gold and enjoy helping others. 

Each month, we have two meetings. One is almost 3 hours long and is focused on a badge, fieldtrip, or activity of some sort. The other is about 1 1/2 hours long and we do various service projects. 

At the beginning of this year, we sat down with the girls and had them brainstorm about the service projects for the year. We did this in junction with planning the badges. It was much easier this year, because we had a list to start with. BCG Patches has the Helping Hands patch program and we used that when we ran out of ideas on who to help. 

September we made cards for a dear friend's Mom. October we'll be making treat bags for the teachers at the girls' school. 

I know when the girl's were younger badges were where it was at, but as they grow sometimes they don't have the same desire to earn badges about food or financial literacy. Girl Scouts, as you know, is girl-led. Allow them to change their meeting structure to fit their passions. That may mean a service meeting, such as ours. It may mean a "dinner and movie" meeting or something that is not the traditional meeting plan when we think of a troop meeting. But, that's okay. Keep them interested. Keep them coming back. Be flexible and roll with their ideas. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Share the Season Patch Program

I have been excited about this Patch Program launch for 3 months!!! Ever since I received the proof of the embroidered patch and saw the amazing detail, I've been wishing my days away. Crazy, I know.. but LOOK at this patch!!

The Share the Season Patch Program is the October 2016 release from BCG Patches (my little patch company). It's all about the tradition of holiday baking and sharing those labors of love with those you love or those that could use a little happiness. 

To earn the patch, you are asked to bake 5 different types of cookies and treats. You can do it all on one big baking day or you can divide it up over several different days. That's up to you. The only other requirement is to share the goodies. 

Each year, I bake 10-12 different types of cookies and treats, then load up about 20-25 tins with all the goodies. My husband and I deliver them to friends, family, business associates, and the various people in our world. This is the 10th anniversary of that tradition. So, it's just appropriate that I share that tradition through a patch program. 

This is not the only winter fun patch coming from BCG Patches, either. November will knock your socks off.  

Patches are guaranteed available
through February 15, 2017

Patches are:
$2/each including shipping
3 1/2"x 2 1/2"
fully embroidered
sew on

Here's what you need to do:
Download the FREE guide (full of recipes!!!)

Monday, October 10, 2016

I earn patches, so can you!

Little known fact.... maybe not.... leaders love earning patches, too.  Well, at least I do.

This week I'm attending the ColdFusion 2016 Summit in Las Vegas. You know I'm a computer programmer to pay the bills right?  I know,  poor me. Vegas for 5 days for work.

Anyway,  my husband came with me and we took a little drive to Red Rock Canyon.  It's awesome! It's definitely different natural elements than mid-Missouri.

So, I worked a little on Go Wild and Explore Earth.  I want those patches on my blanket, so I need to get them earned.

This post has no other point than to give you full permission to earn patches with or without your group.  Patch programs challenge and continue your learning.  They cultivate your creativity.  That's good for your brain and psychological well-being.  Never stop learning.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Cupcake Removal Trick plus bonus

How many of us have problems saying "no"? Pick me! Pick me! 

I wish I would have figured out the tricks I just learned this morning when I was baking 250 cupcakes for a Girl Scout event. Yeah... 250 cupcakes... iced... all cute like. Do the math, people. That's 11 cake mixes!

My problem is was that I have 5 pans for cupcakes (remember, 11 mixes and that means 22 pans). I have 4 twelve cupcake holder pans and 2 six cupcake holder pans. When cupcakes come out of the oven, they are hot little buggars and I needed to go again. I'm not a patient baker. When you try to grab those little suckers out of the pans, you burn your fingers. Yes, you could use a hot pad, but then you tear up the cupcake. You can try to pinch on the sides, but then you know you are going to loosen the liner off the cake. Cupcakes are delicate! Especially when you want them out of the blasted pan for the next round of batter. 

This morning, I was baking some cupcakes and thought "hmmmm... I wonder...." I have cooling racks that I use to flip sheetcakes out of pans. you put a cooling rack over top of the pan, flip, and voila. Sheetcake on cooling rack. So, I took TWO cooling racks, because I didn't want cupcakes on the loose or all over the floor. I sandwiched the cupcake pan between 2 cooling racks. This gave me a fairly good sturdy sandwich to build my confidence for the next step. Picture this: right side up cooling rack, cupcake pan, upside down rock. And.... FLIP! 12 upside down cupcakes. Wait, upside down... hmmm... probably not good to leave them like that. So I put the 2nd rack over the top of my cupcake bottoms and flipped again. 12 right side up cupcakes all cute on a cooling rack. No burnt fingers. No loose liners. No torn up cupcakes.

If you do this while the cupcakes are hot, there may be a few lines from the rack, but they bounce back and you are going to ice them. Right? Icing is good... don't forget the icing!

I was telling my friend about this and she thinks I'm a genius. I do feel like one right now, but I'm sure others out there have done this for years and I'm just late to the game. Now, of course, if you overfill cupcake liners and cupcake is stuck to the pan this isn't going to work as well... so, don't do that. 

In addition to this trick, next time I'm making 250 cupcakes I'm going to get myself a little gummy finger thimble like bank tellers use to count money. Uh huh... cupcake liners beware. I'm on to your game of never separating correctly. I have plans for you, too. Me and my little gummy finger are out to show you who is boss.

Of course, this really has nothing to do with Girl Scouts... unless you are making 250 cupcakes and are thinking "HOW am I going to get these stupid things out of the pan without burning my fingers off, loosening the liners, and tearing up cupcakes?!?" If that is your problem, then hopefully this helps. :)

They also look super cute sitting on the rack in their perfect cupcake pan spacing.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Explore Earth Patch Program

It's time for the September 2016 BCG Patches Release! 

The Explore Earth Patch program challenges you to find out more about the planet on which we live. Selecting from various activities you will learn, build, and spread the word of how awesome our home rock truly is. Here’s to exploring the 3rd rock from the sun.  

Sample activities include: 
  • ​Earth Trivia
  • Moon Phases
  • Stepping Stone
  • Acrostic of EARTH
  • Earth Cupcakes
  • Clay Earth
  • Recycling Service projects
  • and more...
Download the FREE Program Guide

Patch is:
2 1/4" x 2 3/4"
fully embroidered
sew on

Don't forget to Order The Patch! The patch will be available through February 15, 2017. At that point, what I have in stock will be sold until the patches are gone. If you plan to work on this patch, please place your order by February 15th in order to guarantee availability. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Mummy Madness - Halloween party made easy!

Update 11/2/16: Patch is sold out and there are not plans to reorder at this time. 

Available through November 1st.

Make your Halloween party one to remember with the Mummy Madness patch program!

Using the activities suggested in this guide, you can plan one great party for your group! As a bonus, they’ll have a super cute patch to remember the event.
The Mummy Madness patch program is designed to make party planning a cinch. You have a variety of activities to choose from. Select the 6 activities you want to complete, set up your stations, and order the balloons! It’s time to make some memories.

Patches are: 
​2 1/2" hexagon
Fully embroidered
Sew on

Sample activities include:
  • Mummy Trivia
  • Play Anubis and Mummies
  • Make a Mummy Necklace
  • Make a Mummy Jar
  • Snack on Mummy Bananas

Download the FREE Program Guide to see how to earn this patch!

Order your patches by November 1st to guarantee availability!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Build a house for yearly planning

Do you find yourself stuck trying to figure out how to plan the year and you need a better option? Build a house!

I found this idea last year on a Council site in a booklet talking about working with Cadettes. I don't remember where I found it and I have searched and they must have removed it. Anyway, my super cool co-leader ran with it. What's even better... the girls LOVED it and asked if we were going to use the house again this year. Of course, we are!! It's hard to find things teenage girls like to do. 

We are filling up our house to plan our scouting year... We have 2 meetings each month. One is a badge meeting. One is a service project meeting. 

Here is how the house works: 

Draw a house on a piece of poster board. Divide the house into however many rooms you need to fill your year. We meet during the school year, so we have 9 rooms. If you meet all year, you can have 12 rooms. If you only want to plan 6 months at a time, then... 6 rooms. You get the idea, right? Make sure your house has an attic!

We give the girls the badge booklets and any other patches we are considering to choose from and they write down on a post it the name of the badge and their name. Then, they place the post it in the attic of the house. Those are all the ideas. We let them go at that for a while. If you have a large group, maybe limit them to their top 3 choices. We're small, so we just let them go for 10 minutes or so. This is supposed to rather quick. It's not the time to look up and read the whole badge. Read the title of the badge, think if it sounds interesting, write it down if you want to do it. 

Then, together, we find the duplicates and stack them together. The more duplicates, the more popular and the more likely it is to make the cut. At the same time, we work together to figure out which month and put it in the appropriate room. We keep going until we have the house filled up. Anything left in the attic are choices the girls can do on their own, if they like, OR we save them for the next year. This is our last year as Cadettes, so if they want any of the leftovers they have to do them outside troop meetings. 

Next, for our group, comes badge assignment. Who is going to lead this badge? Typically, it's the girl that suggested it. But, if that isn't even... start discussing and have the girls volunteer to lead the various badges.

Finally, we start brainstorming on service projects and organizations to help and what to do. We make a list. We think about campaigns for each month (ie October is Breast Cancer Awareness, November is Veteran's Day, etc.) Assign them to a month and voila... year planned!

Inside our rooms we also place any Service Unit events or such that we will be doing that month. We do this to get a clear picture of what else is going on that month that we need to think about. 

I really hope this helps you. Our troop seems to enjoy it and it gets the girls talking and planning and it helps the leaders know what is coming up and your year is planned in one big swoop. With younger girls, this may be a bit too much to do in one meeting, so break it up or only plan 3 months out. 

It's a great tool and I'm so thankful for finding it. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Let's Be Real... Find Direction

I hear from Leaders quite often that they feel they are making it up as they go along. They aren't sure they are doing what they should be doing. They don't know if they are fulfilling this mystery of a Girl Scout experience. They think they are failing. 

My response, depending on the level of anxiety I'm hearing from the leader in question, is "You are probably doing a lot better than you are giving yourself credit." That is the case 99% of the time. Unless you are habitually cancelling meetings, ignore as they scream the whole time, and never give any of them one single word of encouragement... you are probably alright. 

As I sat in the first troop meeting of the school year with my 8th grade Cadettes, my mind
started to wander. They need guidance to stay on track at times. They need mentoring for a little help in understanding that you can adjust activities to meet the need. But, they don't really need me to figure everything out for them, well at least not most of the them. 

My mind was wandering back to the first few years of being a Troop Leader. I would plan over the summer what we would be doing. I'd make the phone calls to set up this or that. I'd try to see what badges they said the Spring before to complete the upcoming year (That was always part of our May meeting... let's choose a few badges you want to do next year). 

Let me let you in on a secret. Let's be real. Leading a Girl Scout troop isn't easy. There are going to be times you feel like you have no idea what you are doing. There isn't a clear path that I can give you. There isn't a set list of badges you must complete or activities you have to do. The only requirement is that you listen to your girls and try to make what they want to do happen. That's it. It's that simple. (Insert chuckle, because listening to the wants/needs of girls is never simple.)

Sure, when they are in the younger levels (Daisy/Brownie) you are doing most of the prep work for meetings and you may be doing most of the picking of badges, too. But once they get to Junior level, they can definitely let you know what they do and don't want to do. Oh, can they let you know.... They can help plan the badges and they can help decide which activities to complete. Yes. It can be more work at times with this mindset. But, it turns your meetings into girl-led. No. They may not want to do the Inside Government badge or the Screenwriting badge ("12 page script? Are you kidding me?" --- Yes, actual girl quote) But, that's okay. I've always told my girls there are a few badges that I feel they need to complete at each level and we're going to do those. The rest are up to them. (What badges, you ask? Girl Scout Ways and First Aid... those are my "must do" badges")

So, if you feel you are lost or failing... talk to your girls. Be honest with them. Tell them you aren't sure what the troop wants to do this year and you need them to help you plan. The answer is right there in front of you. As Juliette Low said, "Let's ask the girls". I really feel GS USA has moved away from that in some regards and that is a reason for decline in membership. Take out of the badge list. Go through the badges with them. Get their input. Pick out the badges for the entire year. There is your direction. You found it. Now, decide if the girls are going to be responsible for badge activities or if you are going to take care of it (the older the get, the more they should be doing... Personally, I think Cadettes should be leading their own meetings and I have gotten to the point of just sitting in the chair and waiting a bit before saying "We probably need to open the meeting, right? Is someone going to do that?" It's my passive aggressive way of reminding them they are in charge of their meeting.)

One last comment to hopefully put your mind at ease... I would say 98% of our Leaders ARE Leaders... Sometimes, it's hard to balance leading and mentoring. It takes patience and determination and the ability to "let go"... delegate some simple tasks to the girls at first and then build it up... they will give you direction. They know what they want to do... just ask them. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Everyone's Cup of Tea

Have you heard this song? It speaks to me... I find myself in this trap quite often. There are times, days, weeks, seasons where I want to get off that merry-go-round and throw in the towel. 

We run around trying to please everyone. It's important to make others happy. Don't offend anyone. Be polite. Be careful of your words. Be sure to keep calm and please. Heaven forbid... don't make a mistake!

As the song says "You can't be everyone's cup of tea"

You can't be everybody's cup of tea
Some like the bitter, some the sweet
Nobody's everybody's favorite
So you might as well just make it how you please
Cause you can't be everybody's cup of tea

It's so easy to judge another's accomplishments. It's so easy to correct what you didn't start. At some point in your life, you have started a paper or a project... if you're like me, the beginning didn't always follow through to the end. We modify. We draft. We review. We wrestle with what it should become. Sometimes it's an easy process. Sometimes it isn't. But, I remember reviewing papers of others and how easy it was to correct their mistakes and make recommendations. It wasn't that easy with my own. It's easier to take someone else's idea and build on it rather than start from ground zero. 

Just try to remember we are all works in progress. We don't need the harsh judgment of others. We are our own worst critic. 

At the end of the day... we can't be everything to everyone. Our decisions are not going to be 100% supported. Someone out there is going to say they would have done this or that or would have never done this or that. They are going to judge us based on every action we make. It's the world we live in. But, in order to change the world... we need to start the change within our selves... 

Before you critique another leader or tell them where their shortcomings are... remember you have them too and they are doing the best they can. Just because you would have done it differently, doesn't mean it's the only way. Just because you don't agree with it, doesn't make it wrong. 

We rarely know the obstacles someone is facing in their life. Have compassion. Give some slack. Take a moment and breathe. 

and remember... you don't have to be everyone's cup of tea, either. Be true to yourself. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Sing a song... all day long...

Well... I haven't made a post in a while... I've been busy singing and trying to stay cool.

Our Service Unit hosts a day camp each year and I do the Songs Station. That includes a closing ceremony song for the last night of camp. 

This year, I threw tradition to the wind and went with all funny, goofy songs. If you are looking for Make New Friends or Linger, you are looking in the wrong book. 

The girls had fun. I had fun. We made some memories... that's a pretty cool tradition in itself. 

I thought I'd be nice and all that and share our song booklet. 

Here you go! 

2016 Twilight Camp Song Book (it doubles as a coloring book, if you print it on white paper)

Yes. It's a PDF. Yes. There are a few typos. 

Monday, July 18, 2016


I'm turning 40 next year... 40.... like 4... 0.... I don't feel 40... people tell me I don't look 40, but really who is going to say "yeah, you totally look 40!" to someone that is almost 40 and not be running the other direction as fast as possible!!?? 

So, I have started thinking about what I want to do to commemorate this event... I thought about 40 fun things to do, but that sounds costly and I love me, but come on... no... so, now I'm thinking about 40 random acts of kindness with the snag that I can't buy anything to do it... so it's got to be stuff I have on hand (crafter galore here) or things I do... like real "acts". I'm serious about this, too... I was going to do something like this for 35, but it didn't happen... but 40... 40 deserves some attention... and positive attention, not negative attention... 

if you want to help me out with this, leave a comment of something I could do that would be no cost or low cost... 

Some ideas I have swirling... I don't want to do ALL of these... but maybe one... or maybe 10 of each or something to total 40... I need guidance... help..

1. Make 40 swaps and give to 40 Girl Scouts
2. Make 40 Love Rocks and place in 40 different places throughout my hometown
3. Donate 40 books that I own to the local women's refuge home
4. Write 40 thank you notes
5. Say hello and smile to 40 strangers

... stuff like that... 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Fall Frenzy Patch Program

If you aren't signed up for the BCG Patches Newsletter or belong to one of the Facebook groups where patches go to be loved, then you may have missed the announcement today. YIKES!!!

The Program Guide for the next patch program has been debuted in the store today. Patches will be arriving mid-August 2016. They are ordered, but I don't want to start taking orders until I can fill those orders. The plan is to keep the patch in the store through November 15th, unless sales are just not going well then I may need to reevaluate that decision... or I may have them longer stuck with the ones from the initial order. Though, considering the response thus far... I don't really think I should worry about it. 

Okay... enough blabbering... Fall Frenzy Program Guide is in the store! Go get your FREE download!

Fall means cooler weather, less bugs, and tons of opportunities to make memories to last a lifetime. Get excited and get out to enjoy the gorgeous scenery Fall has to offer.

Choose from 20 activities to earn 100 points and earn the Fall Frenzy patch! Patches are ordered and will be arriving mid-August 2016. 

Sample activities include:

  • Start a patch blanket
  • Go leaf peeping
  • Try a hot mulled cider recipe
  • plant bulbs for Spring

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Humble & Kind

I'm probably late to the party, but this song speaks so deep to my heart. While it isn't truly scout related, I think it should be the foundation for any life or organization. 

No matter how far you go, no matter how successful you become... don't let it go to your head. Don't forget to help others. Don't forget why you started this journey and all the help you had along the way. Don't think you did it on your own. No matter how many people say they are "self-made", they aren't... you aren't... maybe we've just become too self-centered to recognize the people around us helping, lifting, cheering, and stepping back while we take the spotlight. 

I guess I just wanted to remind myself, and anyone else that needs it, to remain humble and kind... It's really hard for me to receive a compliment, because I know that while I am good at things, I'm not the only one that can do what I do and in my heart I want others to know I really do want them to succeed... 

You know what they call a leader without followers? Someone just taking a walk. 

Don't forget when you get where you're going to turn around and help the next in line. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Theme Year for Leaders

I'm working on Program Guides today for 4 different patch programs that are coming up this Fall. This is my allowed break... and roasting tomatoes for tomato paste. Did you know I love gardening? I do. I get that from my Dad. I hate picking green beans, but I love having home canned green beans... so I tell myself to just pick the beans and stop whining! Then, I yanked out the plants with pure delight when they stopped producing... plans to are to plant more for Fall beans next weekend, though, so I know it's only a matter of time before I have to make myself go pick beans. 

Anyway... topic at hand... collaboration is a good thing. If you ever get to the point where you think you have it under control and know exactly what you are going to do all year with your troop... take a deep breath and ask if you have just gone through the motions or if you really thought about trying something new. Chances are since you are here and reading this, you are on that journey for something new. 

Just this past week I was thinking about the leaders in our service unit (ok, really, I think about them a lot!). I'm the VSC (think Service Unit Manager with a swanky new title of Volunteer Support Coordinator) for the 4th year now and I've made it my mission to increase attendance and to reward those who attend our monthly Leader Meeting. I've struggled with how to do that... I've thought about prizes, but that gets costly. I've thought about "leader bucks", but then what do they purchase with them? I started looking around and found something delightful... handouts that you give only those that attend the meeting. Obviously, you can't stop people from sharing with friends that weren't there. But, hopefully it will entice them to attend. At the end of the Girl Scout year, they will have several idea sheets to help them and build upon. That's what I'm going to do. 

If you are looking for an idea to build this upon.... You could give out songs or games or ceremonies or traditions or who knows what all. But, that's going to
be my new thing.. a themed year for my Leaders. Bring it on... now, I need to decide on something cute and easy to give them to store them in... I have a couple ideas. I'm not going to tell you, though, until they know... so you have a couple months. I'm going to start this at the October 2016 meeting. 

OH... and even though you aren't "my leaders" (or maybe you are, stalkers of Service Unit 738), I will be sharing my themed year idea sheets here each month... so look forward to that the 2nd week of each month. Yay! You'll have to get your own way of storing them, though. :)

Here's to learning new tricks from experienced Leaders...!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Super Scout Summer party... rain version

This is where you find out I even tweak the patch programs I create. Yep. Sometimes you have to improvise when you plan an outdoor party months in advance and.... it rains. FUN!

This is what we did to earn our Super Scout Summer on a rainy day... For 10 girls, my budget was about $200. I'm sure I could have done it cheaper, but this was our last "hoo-rah" as a troop with my co-leader and I as their leaders. 

Sidewalk chalk
I have a sidewalk in front of my house. Each girl took a square on the pavement and decorated it up. I had also wrote in huge letters "Super Scout Summer Party" with arrows and directions to the back of the house... which we didn't use, because we had to do chalk first to beat the rain... fun times... but the girls loved decorating the sidewalk.

Supplies: Chalk - Purchased the classroom pack from Oriental Trading. TONS of chalk. Each girl got her own baggies of 10 pieces to use for decorating and to keep. They were very excited they were able to keep the bags of chalk to take home with them. 

Make a coloring page
Using the squiggle method, the girls filled a white piece of paper with pencil drawn squiggles, then were instructed to only color 25-50% of the page with color. The idea was to have them do a little free form work to create the design and then leave some white space to complement their color. 

Supplies: Paper, Pencils, crayons

Color and build a kite
Remember... impending rain storm... like thunderstorm watch rain storm... We did not decorate our kites. The girls each got a pack of 8 permanent markers to take with them to color their kites. We DID put the kites together and the girls loved running around the backyard to make them "fly", since the air was too still for actual flying of kites. We made the best of it... and I have some really cute pics of little girls with kites sort of in the air... smiles and giggles, so all is well.

Supplies: Kite Kits, Permanent Markers (Oriental Trading)
Trail Mix bar & watching clouds
I set up bowls for each ingredient. The girls washed their hands and then filled a baggie however they pleased with the ingredients before them. I LOVE make your own trail mix bars, because you don't have to think about picky eaters. I was shocked at how many raisins we went through... not as shocked about the marshmallows.

Watching clouds consisted of standing on the patio and checking out the storm clouds rolling in... not exactly what I had envisioned (blankets on the ground, lying on  our backs looking for shapes and making up stories...)... but alas... silly weather.

Supplies: M&Ms, Raisins, Marshmallows, Pretzel sticks, Chex mix, Peanuts, Ziploc baggies
Sand jar ceremonyI posted about this earlier, so... check that post out. :)

Watermelon seed spitting
The best laid plans... Ugh.. okay.. so, I'm not a huge watermelon fan. But, we were going to spit seeds... guess what... too early in the season to get the watermelons with the great big black seeds... just the little white seeded watermelons are here right now... So... we enjoyed the watermelon slices very much... and then spit raisins instead. The girls thought it was hilarious and awesome. So... win!

Supplies: Watermelon seeds... or raisins... 

Hula hoop relay
In a very fast paced hula hoop relay as it started to sprinkle... we stood in a circle with joined hands and stepped through and bent down and got a hula hoop all the way around our circle going over each of us. The girls were full of giggles as as raced the storm... but, we made it!

Supplies: hula hoops

Fingerprint murals
I feel as though the cards were stacked against me... seriously... the last thing we did was make fingerprint murals. Personalities really came out as they argued over who had which paper first... sigh... seriously, ladies, chill. But, we sort of made it through. Each girl selected a washable marker and colored one finger. They pressed it against the paper and then we slid to the paper to the person on our left where they added their fingerprint in their color. By the time we were done... and went through the stack because there was a traffic jam of papers in one area because of a trail mix spill... ha... each paper had 12 fingerprints. We were going to add hair, eyes, arms, legs, etc to make a mural.. but, I'm going to be honest here... It had been over 2 hours of fun and I had put in 70 hours at work that week and I was done...DONE... so, I told the girls how to complete them at home and we bagged up their stuff and finished up... and closed up the party... 

Supplies: Cardstock, Washable markers

If you would like to complete a Super Scout Summer Party of your own and get the patch to prove it... order here:
There is a guide to download with TONS of great ideas, too. And hopefully your weather cooperates more than mine...

There were other activities I had planned to do if a thunderstorm hadn't decided to rain on my day... but we needed the rain, so I won't be too upset about it. Plus, after the party, I went back to work and ended with 75 hours in 7 days... fun...